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Shabbat Shalom. Welcome to the third in the series on the 7 redemptive names of God—Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides.
The first time we come across this name of God is in the story of Abraham as he carried out a rather strange command from God. At the end of that experience,
… Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”Genesis 22:14 NKJV
There is much to unpack from this verse. So, for today’s post I’ll focus on the first part of the verse: “Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide”. And, next week we’ll look at the other part: “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Let’s go back, back to the backstory.
Here we see Abraham and Sarah well on in years, in their nineties to be exact and far beyond childbearing. Yet this is when the promised son, Isaac, was born. But before Isaac there was another son, Ishmael, borne to Abraham via Hagar, Sarah’s servant.
As inevitably happens when there is a “love” triangle, tension arose between Hagar and Sarah. Feeling unloved and mistreated, Hagar ran away. [The saga unfolds in Genesis 16.]
Pregnant and alone in the desert, feeling invisible, deserted and believing no one cared, that’s when a messenger from God comes to Hagar. He instructs her to return to Sarah, but not before assuring her that her descendants will be numerous. She was so buoyed up and overjoyed at the proclamation, this was her response:
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi”. [Beer Lahai Roi means well of the Living One who sees me.]Genesis 16:13-14
She returns to Sarah and there bore her son.
Thirteen years passed by and Sarah finally becomes pregnant and she gives birth to Isaac—the long awaited blessing of a son from whom “a great nation” would come. However, some thirteen or so years after the child was born God made a most unusual request of Abraham—he’s to sacrifice Isaac! What in God’s name!? God requesting a human sacrifice?!
I must admit, this is one of the stories in the Bible that causes me to cringe so much so it’s forced me to seek an understanding of it’s symbolic and foreshadowing qualities. (I’ll delve into that next week.)
No doubt the request was one that raised varying contradictions within Abraham on different fronts. Theologically—the sacrifice of humans was against what he knew of God. Relationally—he had to hide it from Sarah. And we know the negative effects of secrets on a marriage, don’t we?! Socially—with the death of his only heir, his bloodline would cease to exist and his social status would plummet. Emotionally—his faith contradicted his affections. His faith led him to believe God would resurrect Isaac (Hebrews 11: 17-19). But, no doubt the emotional toll was high because he actually went through all the actions to sacrifice his son to the point of raising the knife before God stopped him and provided a substitute in the form of a ram.
Going through this odyssey and its last-minute dramatic intercession by God, led Abraham to memorialize the place, Mount Moriah, with a symbolic name—The-Lord-Will-Provide from which is translated Jehovah-Jireh.
There are three points that stood out for me in the examination of this name of God that I’d like to share with you.
ONE: What we often deem as “mistakes” can be a part of God’s means to provide.
- The root of Jireh is “to see”. The first time we see that name of God, “El Roi”, is with Hagar. (Genesis 16:13)
- However, when compounded with Jehovah, Jireh means “to provide”.
- So the name Jehovah Jireh connects both Hagar’s and Abraham’s experiences and encounters with God.
- God not only sees us in the current state of our experiences, but into the future and He provides for both our immediate and future needs. For that’s what the verb “will” connotes—it is present and future tense.
TWO: Our act of letting go releases not only God’s provision, but enables God to know experientially how we feel about Him.
- When God saw that Abraham would obey Him, even to the point of giving up what he held dearest, his only son, then God provided. You see, it’s an if-then relationship which God always initiates. He makes a request, if we comply then He will act, and His action is always a blessing.
- After Abraham acted, God said something that is striking: “now I know that you fear me” (Genesis 22:12). It begs the question, if God knows all things, why did He say “now I know” after Abraham acted?
- One of my favorite Bible teachers, Dr Tony Evans in his book, The Power of God’s Names, gave me a new insight into this verse. While God knows all things—actual and potential—He doesn’t necessarily know everything experientially. In essence, God was saying to Abraham, now I have experienced that you revere Me.
- This is why the Bible says God inhabits our praise. According to Strong’s Concordance, inhabits is from the Hebraic word yashab, which means to “sit”, “remain”, or “dwell.” Think about it, the omnipresent God who can be everywhere at the same time sits/remains/dwells in a moment of time in order to experience our praise. From our praise it’s as if He responds with: now I know experientially that you love and adore Me, I will in turn reveal more of myself to you.
And, THREE: When God requests us to do something, delayed obedience and action is as good as disobedience. But when we obey, He blesses us abundantly above what we can even imagine.
- When God spoke to Abraham about Isaac he obeyed and acted right away. God blessed him abundantly above just a promised son but that from his lineage the ultimate promised Son, Jesus Christ, would come.
- How do we know this? Well, right after this traumatic and dramatic experience of the almost sacrifice, the Bible record goes straight into what reads like an anticlimax—it outlines Abraham’s lineage. “And … begat …” till we get to “And Bethuel begat Rebekah….” (Genesis 22:23 KJV).
- And who’s Rebecca? She would become the beloved wife of Isaac.
- And the lineage litany continues: “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat …” till we get to “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1:16 KJV) Not an anticlimax after all uh?!
May you come to know and experience Jehovah Jireh—the God who sees us, and uses what may seem like a mistake to bless us. Jehovah Jireh—the God who provides in the immediacy of our needs and those in the future. Jehovah Jireh—the God who enters into our experiences so much so He came as human to live the human experience from conception to birth to death.
Is it possible that our needs aren’t fully met because we are holding on so tightly to the small stuff (a son, in the case of Abraham) when God wants to bless us with the huge stuff (like a whole nation from which salvation to the entire world would come)?!
It’s depicted so fittingly in this cartoon. A little girl holds on to a tiny teddy bear which she clearly loves and can’t imagine parting with it while God is cajoling her to trust Him and let it go for He has something better in store. Do you think she did? Would you?
God is asking us: would you trust Me enough to surrender, to let go off of it/her/him/them/whatever so I may provide what you really need?!
The lyrics of one of my all-time favorite songs, aptly entitled “Jireh” (by Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music) is too perfectly aligned not to share it here. Enjoy!
See you next week for Part II of Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.
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